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Me and My Mentor: Xavier College’s Raoul D’Souza & Greg Carey

It’s no surprise that Xavier College’s director of music, Greg Carey, and year 12 music captain and prefect Raoul D’Souza share a passion for music performance.

They also share an understanding of the importance of a well-rounded education and of how school scholarships can provide the keys to success.

 

RAOUL SAYS …

Before I came to Australia I lived in Bahrain, a small island in the Middle East. I was born there in 1998.

My parents had been to Australia; they loved the environment and wanted to settle here for the opportunities it would provide us. So we moved here four years ago.

Our family has close links with the Jesuit education system – my parents were educated in the Jesuit tradition and my great uncle is a Jesuit archbishop in India.

My parents looked at other schools in Melbourne but Xavier College really stood out. The only problem, my parents had bought a house closer to Geelong and it’s a long trip from Kew. With early morning rehearsals it seemed that I would not be able to make the daily journey. Then something amazing happened. Patrick Loftus-Hills, a former Xaverian, had just offered the Loftus-Hills Family Music Scholarship. Receiving this was wonderful. [The scholarship enabled Raoul’s family to move closer to the school.]

Music is central to my mum’s family. They had a family band, a bit like The Jackson Five because there were five of them. It was called Sugar and Spice. My mum played and taught piano. So she started to teach me at age three.

When I was six, I started playing the violin after seeing Maxim Vengerov on YouTube. Initially, I started learning with a local teacher in Bahrain. However, because Bahrain is such a small place, people often leave, which meant I had six teachers in just seven years.

By the time I reached 10, I had finished my eighth grade in violin and I took a bit of a break to study the saxophone. I fell in love with it as well. By the time I came to Australia, I had finished all my grades for all instruments as well as my diploma in violin.

When we visited Xavier College for the first time the director of music, Mr Carey, gave us a tour of the school. The next year I started in year 9 and the mentor connection with Mr Carey started from day one. He was always available to give valuable advice and he was particularly helpful throughout my year 12 music course.

I’m still deciding what I want to do when I finish school but I’d like to study medicine and continue with music. I am really interested in biomedical science at the University of Melbourne because I can also study music at the same time.

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GREG SAYS …

I grew up on a dairy farm at Koroit in the Western District of Victoria, so I really should be a dairy farmer if family tradition was to dictate.

Fortunately for me, music took hold of my imagination from an early age. When I was 10, I used to listen to my brother’s girlfriend play the piano. She was influential in my desire to study the piano.

My family was not interested in music, apart from the odd guitar lesson. Initially I had to beg for piano lessons and we didn’t even own an instrument for the first 12 months.

Luckily I had an extraordinary teacher in Claire Moloney, who instilled in me the importance of excellence.

From the age of 18 I started teaching four-year-olds group lessons at Parkville Music School. I really enjoyed working with others and quickly learnt that studying a piece of music for yourself essentially followed the same process when teaching someone else a new work. Naturally, I gravitated to education at the University of Melbourne after my initial degree in music performance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

My first post was at the University High School as piano teacher, year level co-ordinator and instrumental music co-ordinator. I moved to Xavier College in 1998, taking on the role as director of music, with a challenge to create a program of music education from kindergarten to year 12 across three campuses.

We have – and attract – many fine musicians and Raoul is one such example. He is a wonderful musician who has always followed his passion. His talent is extraordinary and a wonderful exemplar of the Loftus-Hills Family Music Scholarship.

I have fond recollections of meeting Raoul and his parents five years ago. Two things really impressed me about Raoul. One was when we entered the chapel, he showed such sincere respect of his surroundings. The second was when I asked him to play something on a beginner violin. Raoul performed some Bach and it was amazing.

Today, music at Xavier is thriving. In a normal week at Xavier, 900 instrumental lessons are conducted and taught by our staff of 60 specialist instrumental teachers. We offer 64 music ensembles, covering all genres of music. Our ensembles feature regularly at music festivals throughout Victoria and this year the Symphony Orchestra took part in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna.

Our dream for the future is to build a new school of music with a magnificent recital hall. This, I know, would set hearts on fire for future generations.

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